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The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture Paperback – August 1, 2012
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From the Inside Flap
"Christian Smith plainly says what so many others have been thinking or implying for some time--namely, that many strands of evangelicalism believe things about the Bible and theology that are simply impossible. Smith exposes the scholastic alchemy that holds this fragile theological edifice together and helps us understand that serious damage is done to the church and its witness when we perpetuate the errors of biblicism."--Kenton L. Sparks, Eastern University
"Smith vigorously presents a compelling possibility: The Bible could be more alive, the church could be more unified, those of us who care deeply about scripture could be less fearful about some collapse of authority and more honest about what is actually in the Bible if we simply began to listen with more humility and openness to what it is God seems most concerned to reveal. A great book for this time in the life of evangelicalism."--Debbie Blue, pastor, House of Mercy; author, Sensual Orthodoxy and From Stone to Living Word --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Back Cover
--Scot McKnight, Northern Seminary
"Biblicism remains one of the most entrenched and pressing problems facing the church. In his characteristically lucid, direct, and fair-minded fashion, Christian Smith asks questions about biblicism that need to be answered. Smith also begins to articulate an alternative, Christ-centered approach to biblical interpretation that is supremely constructive--a truly evangelical account of scripture."
--Douglas A. Campbell, Duke University Divinity School
"Given the importance and influence of evangelicalism in American religion and culture, this book is both a healthy corrective and a hopeful sign of positive developments within evangelicalism."
--Daniel J. Harrington, SJ, America
"Ever the sociologist, Smith forces readers to confront and account for the stubborn fact that not everyone who ascribes supreme authority to 'what the Bible says' hears God saying the same thing. Even those, like me, who are not persuaded by his 'truly evangelical' alternative will benefit from this strong dose of realism about the way in which evangelicals actually interpret and appeal to the Bible."
--Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
"[A] finely constructed volume. . . . Smith makes a persuasive case for shifting one's focus from the sole authority of the words of scripture to the one whom scripture proclaims to be 'the way, the truth and the life.' Such a shift, he insists, is necessary for American evangelicalism to move forward."
This edition includes a new afterword in which the author engages conversations stimulated by the hardcover edition.
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
I was once satisfied with the Evangelical mantra so often used to excuse the diversity of Biblical interpretation - "In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things charity," but then, that was when I thought as a child. Smith has clearly debunked that common rationalization by carefully analyzing the axioms of Biblicism and finding them to be wanting as illustrated by the widespread interpretive diversity we find among Evangelicals even in the essentials.
It is his view that Evangelicals have to come to terms with the Biblicist model of the scriptures because that model can't deliver what it is supposed to be able to deliver. However, the fact that it can't deliver unity of understanding is not actually Smith's primary objection. His real objection is to the tenets of Biblicism that suggest that the Bible is so plain, uncomplicated, cohesive, and internally consistent that it SHOULD produce a consensus of meaning. He presents the challenge in this way: "If the Bible is given by a truthful and omnipotent God as an internally consistent and perspicuous text precisely for the purpose of revealing to humans correct beliefs, practices, and morals, then why is it that the presumably sincere Christians to whom it has been given cannot read it and come to common agreement about what it teaches?Read more ›
Steven A. Hunt
In Part 1, Smith spends four chapters talking about the problems of "biblicism." Biblicism consists of the constellation of beliefs and practices surrounding the way most Christians in the United States view and use the Bible. Among other concepts, biblicism contains the ideas of the Bible as the inspired Word of God, the inerrancy of Scripture, the ability of anyone to read and understand Scripture, the inductive method of Bible study to find the universal truth within Scripture, and above all, the idea that the Bible contains all the truth we need for Christian belief and practice.
Christian Smith shows convincingly that the goals and claims of biblicism have not worked, and so it is an impossible way of viewing and reading Scripture. It has great ideas and goals, but it just doesn't work.
His primary evidence for this is the wide diversity in opinions on all theological and practical matters among those who hold to biblicism. The claim is often made that we agree on the major issues, and only disagree on the minor. But this is demonstrably false, as Christian Smith shows. There is almost no agreement on any single issue.
The goals of biblicism have failed, and so biblicism as a way of approaching Scripture is false.
In Part 2, Christians Smith goes on to provide three suggestions for helping us view, read, and study the Bible in a way that allows for the complexity of Scripture while maintaining its authoritative role in our lives.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good book that exposes how unworkable Evangelical biblical theory is.Published 12 days ago by Julius EC Ip
The author addresses a major problem that affects those who hold to Sola Scriptura. Practically speaking, does the Bible *alone* accomplish what biblicists claim it does? Read morePublished 1 month ago by Chris Armer
A necessary and important book for Christians who use scripture as a guide for their lives. In brief, we're doing it wrong. And Dr. Smith explains why.Published 2 months ago by MRG
I'm not sure the average Christian knows what biblicism is but most evangelicals have probably fallen into it's trap when reading/arguing/defending scripture. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Excellent food for thought, showing why we evangelicals need to take a more humble approach to Biblical interpretation.Published 4 months ago by Marilyn Dailey
I do not recommend this book. This book is clearly a hit piece against the inerrancy of Scripture, and the use of a literal hermeneutic. Read morePublished 6 months ago by LHBY
Christian Smith is a clever guy and this book demonstrates that. Smith is the one that gave us the phrase, "moralistic therapeutic Deism" which goes a long way in... Read morePublished 8 months ago by John G. Barbour
Fallacy, built upon fallacy, built upon fallacy. This book is one giant "straw man." The entire case for this book is built around an embellished stereotype evangelical. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Richard Reynolds
Interesting and challenging. As the author admits, he frames the problem very well and only proposes a possible solution as a start of dialogue. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Rick O